Footfall in Wakefield city centre 'almost' back to pre-lockdown levels

Footfall in Wakefield city centre has "almost" returned to pre-lockdown levels, new data has suggested.

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 5:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 2:27 pm
Centre for Cities data shows shoppers have flocked back to the high street.

The district's coronavirus recovery board was told on Monday that people are flocking back to high streets around the district, according to information from the Centre for Cities think tank.

However, some businesses have reported that the numbers of people milling around town are yet to translate into sales.

The news comes around six weeks after non-essential stores were allowed to reopen to the public.

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Non-essential stores reopened to the public last month.

Speaking at the board meeting, senior council officer Joseph Quinn said: "We are tracking data around footfall and movement across the city.

"Actually in Wakefield that's started to almost return to pre-lockdown levels now.

"On an index of 100, we're on 88, which is really good.

"Some of the feedback we've had from businesses is that isn't transferring into trade (in shops), so that's something we're working on."

The findings were supported by anecdotal evidence from Lee Appleton, centre director at The Ridings.

He said footfall at the shopping centre had been helped by its offer of free parking to customers, which runs until the end of the week.

Mr Appleton said: "Our retailers’ performance has been strong since reopening with our anchor stores exceeding expectations and performing well compared to other stores in their region.

"We have welcomed ‘Hidden Treasures’, a brand new independent book, record and antique store on the lower mall since non-essential retail reopened.

"The Junk Food Project continues to be popular serving the local community from a unit on the lower mall.

"We are starting to see a number of our regular pop-up retailers return, including local community groups such as ‘Slimming World’ who will be reintroducing their sessions in the next couple of weeks."

Cormac Hamilton, manager for Trinity Walk, said the centre was currently running with footfall around about 80 per cent of normal figures.

He said: "This is significantly better than national and regional figures and we think that the wide and spacious layout of the city and the open air aspect of Trinity Walk have made a big difference.

"The new systems designed by our retailers and the whole Trinity Walk team have been effective and are being constantly reviewed.

"We must also pay real credit to and thank our shoppers and visitors who have brilliant, it's been a combined effort by everyone working in and visiting the city centre.

"Whilst increased footfall is good we have not yet hit full capacity meaning there's plenty of space for shoppers and our paramount aim continues to be to provide the safest and most enjoyable environment we possibly can."

Local Democracy Reporting Service